Spring Forward: Quickest way to adjust your baby's sleep schedule
Spring is just around the corner and to get us ready for some spring sunshine and flowers, our clocks are all turning forward by 1 hour on March 13th. That means more sun in the mornings and more sun in the evenings. And for parents who have an early riser, embrace an extra hour of sleep (finally!) with the help of daylight savings! But for many, parents are bracing themselves from having to handle overtired babies and nights filled with bedtime battles.
Should I Prepare Your Baby for Daylight Savings?
If parents do not facilitate the time change appropriately, your baby is essentially being put to bed earlier than their body is used to sleeping. Thus comes the problem, you have a child who is in bed, waiting for sleep to come, and that time won't be coming for another hour. For most parents, that means you'll likely hear all about that first hand. When morning time comes, your child's circadian rhythm is not set to wake for another hour unless being prompted to wake.
Tools to Prepare for Daylight Savings
So what is the quickest way to adjust your baby's sleep schedule in preparation for daylight savings? Follow these simple steps to breeze through the clock change.
Get Outdoors - Let Mother Nature Help
Burn off some of your child's excess energy so that they can take those naps and bedtime earlier than usual. If you haven't had a chance to go on that big hike or long bike ride, this is the time to do it!
With daylight savings, there is more light in the evenings. Try dimming the lights and turning off screens 1 hour prior to bedtime and use blackout curtains like these. This will be helpful keeping the light out of your baby's room especially as mornings get lighter earlier.
Block out some of the noise those busy birds make in the early mornings. Sleep becomes lighter in the early mornings and for parents who are finally getting an hour of extra sleep, you'd want a sound machine in your baby's room. Make sure you keep the sound machine at least 5 feet from your child's head and used at a level recommended by the manufacturer.
Prime your child for sleep by keeping with bedtime and nap routines. Your child will learn that sleep should follow next when they get into bed.
For children 1.5 years of age and older, having your child identify when it is morning time is a huge step in the right direction. Make sure you spend lots of time practicing during the day and making reference to your training clock every morning.
3 Methods: How to Adjust Your Baby's Sleep Schedule for Daylight Savings
Option 1: Start on Sunday and Split the Difference
Leave the clocks alone and start the day as usual on Sunday. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. To help children ease into the time change, split the difference with the old time and the new time.
30 minute increment example: if bedtime is normally 7pm, you’ll put her down at 7:30pm for 3 nights, then on night 4, you should be back to 7pm. You would do the same for naps. If your baby’s first nap is usually 9:30am, beginning Sunday morning, her nap would be at 10:00am and on day 4, nap times should be back to normal time.
Option 2: Gradually Adjust Bedtime
Gradually move bedtime forward by 15 minutes every two or three nights after the time change, can lessen the effect it has on their schedule compared to a one-hour switch overnight.
15 minute increment example: if bedtime is normally 7pm, the first night, put her down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on; so, in four nights, you should be back to 7pm. You would do the same for naps.
Option 3: Jumping Straight to New Time (Babies 0-6 Months)
Most infants at this young age do not have a “schedule” yet, so they are the exception. Simply jump to the new time on Sunday, as if you were traveling to a new time zone. Use your baby’s awake windows all day.
If you're dealing with more than a daylight-savings-hurdle and want more support with age appropriate sleep solutions that lead to positive sleep patterns, book a complimentary sleep assessment call with me. My 1-1 private consultations can help you get sleep improvements quickly and without all the stress.